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Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016

Machine sanding rosewood 

Hello All,

At age 78 I don't have the stamina that I had as younger man. I've been thinking that I ought to get a sanding machine of some sort to conserve my energy, and of course a drum sander is a more economical choice than the holy grail, a wide belt sander.

My experience with drum sanders has not been a happy one. Sides can be fed in at an angle, but backs need to go straight through, for a couple of reasons. A particularly resinous back will gum up a drum in one pass. And, that back usually happens to be one of my best.

I've been contemplating making a drum sander with a drum large enough, and slow turning enough, to avoid the heat build up that melts the rosewood resin. A big project!

Anyone got any work-arounds? I have heard of spraying the drum with Pam from the grocery store, and I have thought of spraying with "GlideCote" teflon spray, but haven't tried it yet.


  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2018 17:18:42
Tom Blackshear


Posts: 2243
Joined: Apr. 15 2008

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier


I send my back through at a slant with no problem, then finish up sending it through straight with very slight pressure on its thickness. This keeps the resin problem at a minimum. And of course you can follow up cleaning the sand paper with a crape pad after that.


Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2018 18:24:22

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier

The violin makers are buying economy sized spindle sanders from De Walt and Ryobi, etc. and then making a clamp on fence and feather board type thingy to send ribs through vertically against the spindle.

For backs, our of luck, but ribs are harder to hand plane to thickness..with a fenced spindle you can to the ribs easily and the backs just send to cabinet shop when you have five or six joined.

The spindle is easier to change than the belt on drum, and you can begin quite rough and keep changing the spindle sanding tubes to bring rosewood to a fine finish. Then scrape.

I used to have a drum sander that I spent more time adjusting than actually sanding with. Glazed belts....enough. I use planes and scrapers, but I'm thinking of getting the spindle sander to do the final passes to get a uniform thickness without fussing with the planes.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2018 20:23:43
Stephen Eden


Posts: 892
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier

you should be able to, as Tom says, put the back through at a slight angle which will help. Set the feed rate as slow as possible this will help lower the heat build up. Also have a really good extractor.

I use a full width sander which is great. I was lucky to get it for £900 back in the day! You might be able to find something second hand. I'm also making a lot of guitars a year so I definitely make use of it, so make sure it makes economic sense.


Classical and Flamenco Guitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2018 9:11:40

Posts: 1485
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier

I find that light passes, with the coarsest belt you can get away with, until you have to change to a finer grit to avoid having deep scratches remain--and then successively finer grits, so maybe 60, 80, 100, 150, 220 grits--works for me, and I only ruin the last belt, on my 16/32 drum sander which is now made by Jet (though I have an original Performax). The belts cost around $10 and I consider that part of the cost of making a guitar (though it irks me to ruin one).

Because the drum is fixed at only one end, I find that no matter how carefully I make it parallel to the table, it always flexes, causing the work to be thinner at one end. So I run everything through "both ways" and end up with plates that are thinner at the edges and thicker in the middle, which I find acceptable or even useful.


Ethan Deutsch
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 17 2018 2:19:21


Posts: 54
Joined: Sep. 19 2015

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier

I have heard that some people spray the gummed up belts with oven cleaner and then spray it down with water and then let dry.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 23 2018 3:34:12


Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016

RE: Machine sanding rosewood (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello All,

Thanks very much for all your replies and suggestions---much appreciated!

After stewing about the problem for a month I've finally decided to save up for the latest model of Grizzly 15'" open ended wide belt sander. It has a polishing platen and some faster feed speeds that should produce surfaces ready for finish.

I looked at all the other wide belts, and drum sanders in the $1K to $5K price range, considered making a drum sander, and decided that the entry level Grizzly wide belt solved the most problems.

It's going to be awhile before I have anything to report, but I'll keep you posted.


  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 24 2018 16:05:12
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